NDP opposes marathon debate to end York U strike
It will be at least another week before York University students are back in class as the Ontario NDP is refusing to take part in a marathon debate over legislation that would end a months-long strike at the school.
The debate over the back-to-work legislation began Sunday but the labour party forced the bill to go into a second reading Monday. The Liberal government said it's willing to debate the matter until midnight to push the bill through but NDP Leader Howard Hampton said he won't take part in it.
Hampton said he's forcing an extended debate on the matter because passing the bill sends the wrong message to employers involved in a labour dispute. He said management in universities across the province will be convinced that all they would need to do to win a contract negotiation is to stall bargaining until the government steps in.
A third reading of the bill is scheduled for Thursday. At that point, the bill will pass, allowing students back to school on Feb. 2.
More than 3,000 contract faculty, teaching and graduate assistants at York walked off the job on Nov. 6, arguing for better job security and improved benefits. As a result, classes shut down for 50,000 students.
About 5,000 students enrolled in various programs at the school, including the Shulich School of Business, were allowed back to class Monday after an arrangement was worked out with York.
The Progressive Conservatives slammed the NDP for delaying school even longer for the students but laid the blame squarely on the Liberals.
Premier Dalton McGuinty didn't interfere with negotiations until late last week when he appointed a top-notch provincial mediator to work out an agreement with the dueling sides. Negotiations failed again as the two sides remained in fierce deadlock.
On Friday, McGuinty finally bowed to pressure from the Conservatives to table back-to-work legislation.
Once the bill is passed, all outstanding issues between management and the union will go to mediation and binding arbitration.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Paul Bliss